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Full text of "My Country And My People"

THE    CHINESE    PEOPLE                   37

Kuofan (1811-1872), this family ideal of industry and frugality
and living the simple life persisted and was recognized as the
soundest moral heritage of the nation. The family system
somehow wove itself into the rural pattern of life and could not
be separated from it. Simplicity was a great word among the
Greeks, and simplicity, shunp'o, was a great word among the
Chinese. It was as if man knew the benefits of civilization and
knew also the dangers of it. Man knew the happiness of the
joys of life, but also was aware of its ephemeral nature, fearful
of the jealousy of the gods, and was willing to take the joys
that were simpler but would last longer. For to enjoy too
many good things of life was, according to the Chinese, to
chehfo, or decrease one's lot of happiness in this life. Therefore
"one should be just as careful in choosing one's pleasures as
in avoiding calamities." "Choose the lighter happiness," said
a scholar at the end of the Ming Dynasties, and somehow there
was an echo of consent in the Chinese breasts. For human
'lappiness is so precarious that the retreat to nature and
implicity is the best safeguard for it. It must be so, and the
Chinese knew it by instinct. They wanted survival for their
amilies,, and they achieved it for their nation.

V. RACIAL YOUTH

It would seem, therefore, that the Chinese, as a people,
ivoided the dangers of civic deterioration by a natural distrust
>f civilization and by keeping close to primitive habits of life.
This might suggest that the so-called Chinese civilization must
>e understood in a greatly modified sense, that it was a civiliza-
ion in love with primitivism itself and was not quite ready to
ay good-bye to it. Certainly it was not a civilization that had
guaranteed the people peace without intermittent periods of
Joodshed and disorder, or that had made wars and famines
ind floods impossible.

That a country after two thousand years of comparatively
dvilized living could furnish living material for such a story as
ill Men Are Brothers, when the eating of human flesh, though
Ľare, was still possible, certainly reveals in a measure the